Despite insisting throughout the campaign that state government really wasn’t facing a deficit next year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked for and received legislative approval Wednesday to postpone his next budget presentation by two weeks until Feb. 18.
The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has been projecting since last summer that there is a $1.3 billion hole – equal to about 7 percent of annual operating expenses – in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Further complicating matters, the Democratic governor pledged on the campaign trail last week to offer new tax cuts to individuals with student loan debt and to urban businesses – breaks that would worsen the 2015-16 shortfall by another $40 million.
The governor’s budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, already has said some of the proposed tax cuts might have to be delayed, but would not be repealed.
State law requires the governor to submit a balanced budget proposal for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years to the legislature on Feb. 4.
The delay was approved unanimously without discussion Wednesday in the House and Senate.
“Moving from a first term into a second term involves a great deal of transition, including a number of commissioner changes at some very big state agencies,” Gian-Carl Casa, spokesman for the governor’s budget office, said Wednesday. “We felt a slight delay was appropriate.”
The rule change also extends by two weeks the deadlines for action by the legislature’s budget-writing panels – the Appropriations and the Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.
These two panels together develop the legislature’s response each spring to the governor’s annual budget presentation.
The revised deadlines for the Appropriations and Finance committees were not immediately available. The panels traditionally submit their proposals in late March or early April.